Saturday, 31 March 2012


I'm currently taking a respite from social media (blogging, Facebook). I'll be back, don't fret. Just need a little break.

In the meantime, please enjoy one my favorite signs of fall: asters. These grow at the edge of our driveway every year. This is most likely Panicled aster, Symphyotrichum lanceolatum, also called Lance-leaf aster. Same shot, presented 2 different ways.


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Arizona Wildflowers 2012

Superstition Mountains, Superstitions Mountain State Park, Arizona. A few people have asked me about the wildflower conditions in Arizona this year.� It is better then California, but it still isn’t very good.� But there is a bit of good news, but more on that later. As we drove across the desert areas of California a [...]


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Birds Fly South

It's that time of year. It has to be. In just 2 days I saw 2 hawks flying overhead while I was driving. And not in the place or area I'd expect them, just in residential areas right off 2 lane roads.

Hawk mountain had a 1,000+ Broadwinged Hawk day yesterday, Cape May had a 100+ American Kestral/hr day after a storm this week. I even saw 5 ducks at my local little pond for the first time in ages. There's been a kingfisher and a green heron there, but no ducks until this week.

I even have seen a handful of flotillas of Canada Geese flying generally southish.

These Guys Rock

If you are looking for volume of subjects, variety like no other time, this is it. Tons of birds are flying south right now.

I wouldn't consider it snow goose time until late November, and December.
Snow Geese - JX75, A5C6, PM44 (3 pix)Taking Flight

Right now it's raptors, hawks, falcons, eagles, owls, and little birdies like warblers, sparrows, all those kinds of birds and hundreds more!
Looking for the birds @ Hawk Mountain, Pa

Sunrise isn't so early anymore,
and sunset isn't so late.
It's not hot out.
It's not cold out.

Do you like to complain? There's nothing to complain about now.

I'm going shooting!
Female Dark Eyed Slate-colored JuncoMale Snail KiteMagnolia WarblerHawk Hill
nice shot / Jon


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Pelagic Birding

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After my last pelagic birding trip about 16 years, which was a little like the picture (well maybe not quite that bad, but it felt like it), I'm booked in for one tomorrow.


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A Photo Edit - Black and White Red Fox


I've meant to do more posts like this one. A quick take on the edit techniques used to process an image. Doing this for a straightforward image with little edits doesn't offer much. But for many images that I make there's a decent distance between what the camera captured, and how I've interpreted it, edited it, and then produced the final image.

Here's a composite with the final image on top. The bottom two images are from the raw file and are the basic images, reset to defaults in Lightroom and then color (default) and grayscale.
for blog

One of the main problems with the source image was it wasn't that sharp. It was the sharpest of the bunch from the encounter, but at 1/30th of a second at f/4, and a mix of handheld and resting on my car window/beanbag - it was hard to get a sharp shot.

red fox edits

The sharpest part is his nose, and the DoF falls off pretty quickly. As a straight color image his eyes and attention are gripping but the image itself isn't refined enough in my opinion. The above is overly flat due to no processing, but shows signs of animal behavior and intent and that'x what drew me to the photo/moment.

red fox edits

Switching to grayscale removes color and distraction, and elements that might make the mind wander. Color is a strong element on its own but for this image I really wanted to narrow the scope of it to just the fox. Converting to black and white, even though I have black and white on the brain lately, was probably a very justified move.

OK - so that's the setup. That's what I had to work with. I had seen the fox and due to the low light was shooting at pretty slow shutter speeds and wide open. My personal preference is to shoot wide open at ISO 400 and SLOW shutter speeds and let the cards fall where they may on sharpness. I don't always stick to this rule, but I try to avoid shooting at any ISO above 400. There's something about my D300 and D300s that ISO500 or beyond, just make me concerned regarding noise.

Anyway... I've been reading a book. I got it probably a year ago and just picked it up again. The book is Vincent Versace's "Welcome to Oz". In it he describes using Photoshop to turn a source image in to an artistic vision, an interpretation, something where the source file is just the starting point.

I highly recommend everyone listen to this podcast with Vinny (as I hear he's called).

Some of the concepts he talks about are how the eye moves through an image - light to dark, high contrast to low contrast, etc, etc..... Things that make sense but not what you might be concerned with when processing an image where you are really trying to (for me anyway) showcase a subject (often an animal) and show to others what you see.

So - here's the final black and white edit. This was done in Lightroom, and I used the adjustment brush a few times with different levels of lightening and darkening.

Bombay Hook NWR, DE

A few key edits I did were to darken the image and edges, and brighten the eyes and his nose. I also darkened the original bright spot on tht right. Having done that edit, I removed some noise in PS with D-fine, and added my logo.

It's fine to want to get it all right in camera and I shoot for that too. Heck I shot jpg for like 3 years! Now that I shoot RAW and manual mode I strive for getting the source file as good as possible. However there's often much more to an image than that.

Let me know what you think. I'm not looking to stir up the purist's who'd capture it in camera and do NO edits ever... What do folks think about editing images to enhance and convey, and make an image become an artist photo?

-Jon / Jon


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I Still Hate The Padres

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Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. The San Diego area is one of the best places to see this species west of Texas, and is regular enough to be considered a local specialty.


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Core Knowledge: Working With Remotes

There are two things you should always remember about radio remotes:

One, radio can be fickle. This is true whether you are using your time-honored PocketWizards or a brand new Chinese offering.

Two, radio waves -- and success with your remotes -- are all about the physics. So a little knowledge can go a long way toward ensuring good range and reliability.

Some basics that every lighting photographer should know, inside. Read more �


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Pelagic Birding

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After my last pelagic birding trip about 16 years, which was a little like the picture (well maybe not quite that bad, but it felt like it), I'm booked in for one tomorrow.


photography basics

Friday, 30 March 2012

Idaho Pigmy Rabbit - Mackay, Idaho

I spent a few days in the Lost River Mountains above Mackay, Idaho and was able to get several photos of these cute little rabbits. They are dependent upon Big Sage Brush for their survival and have diminished in number as the sage has been plowed, sprayed and overgrazed.


water photography

Spring Roe Deer

I have been taking advantage of the good weather this week taking pictures on the superb light first thing in the morning. The problem with early morning light is that you have to get up and be on site ready … Continue reading


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Midwest Birding Symposium 2011 - photo highlights

Well, this year's Midwest Birding Symposium was a huge success. I had lots of fun, but still didn't get to spend enough time birding, nor did I spend enough time with my friends. But there's always 2013. That's right, the date has already been set for the NEXT Midwest Birding Symposium, which will take place once again in Lakeside, Ohio, on September 19-22, 2013. Mark your calendars now!

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Sorry I didn't blog during the event. I did post some photos to Facebook and Flickr, but for those of you who don't follow either of those social media outlets, here are some of my best photos from the event.

Sunrise at Marblehead lighthouse. I birded at this location, but the main attraction, I must admit, was the chance to view something as beautiful as this.

The same morning I was at Marblehead I took this photo of a juvenile Bald Eagle. Sorry for the photo quality. One of the greatest things about the symposium this year was that I saw at least one Bald Eagle every day I was up there. Pretty cool.

On Thursday evening we took a sunset cruise on the Goodtime I. This is the view as we were preparing to leave the pier at Lakeside.

While on the sunset cruise, we looked for gulls, terns, and other water birds. Here, a smattering of Ring-billed Gulls follows behind the boat.

A Ring-billed Gull caught in the beautiful light of dusk.

Sunset on Lake Erie.

Great Egret flies over the water at Meadowbrook Marsh. This is a relatively new birding hotspot in the area. I'll tell you more about it in an upcoming post.


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The Rules for New (Paid) Photographers

Every community has rules and everyone who wants to join that community needs to know those rules. That doesn?t mean that you can never break them but you should know what those rules are ? and the consequences that come from ignoring them. That?s true whether you?re trying to join the country club or the [...]


long exposure photography

The Black Hat - Photo of the Day - March 29th, 2012

The Black Hat - Photo of the Day - March 29th
"The Black Hat" A beautiful portrait of my daughter wearing a big black hat. View this image on my Website.


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BeetleCam is Back Teaser

If the video does not appear below, watch it on Vimeo: BeetleCam is Back Teaser

BeetleCam is a remote control buggy with a DSLR camera mounted on top. I created the first BeetleCam in 2009 in order to take close-up, wide-angle photographs of dangerous African animals. You can find out more about the initial project in [...]


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Osprey update June 30, 2011

I haven't been to visit "my" nest in a couple weeks. Last I checked the 3 chicks were doing well.


I visited tonight and was met with a sad sight. One of the 3 osprey died, and is still in the nest.


The chick in the background was really bothered by the situation, just looking at its sibling that wouldn't move any more. And it bothered me too.

I couldn't tell what the cause was for sure until I got home and reviewed the images closely, but I had a suspicion. I thought maybe a hook from a snagged fishing line had managed to be eaten by the osprey. But it appears that the osprey chick got tangled in the line and died from that.

There wasn't much to do, but I reported it to someone that can hopefully get a visit from someone that can remove the dead bird.

And to be expected, mom was still mom, and yipped a couple times. And dad came by with a fish, circled a few times, and then delivered a fish. And then mom fed the (2) chicks.

Life goes on. / Jon


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There's a Peacock in my Backyard!


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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Dining with Devils

Few places feel as remote and wild as the Australian island of Tasmania; mile upon mile of sandy beaches and jagged rocks stretch for as far as the eye can see, whilst ancient forests full of giant ferns cover much of the interior. The island is frequently battered by stormy seas and howling winds [...]


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The Rules for New (Paid) Photographers

Every community has rules and everyone who wants to join that community needs to know those rules. That doesn?t mean that you can never break them but you should know what those rules are ? and the consequences that come from ignoring them. That?s true whether you?re trying to join the country club or the [...]


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On Assignment: Caleb Vaughn-Jones, Act Two

Two years ago I first photographed an outstanding young cellist named Caleb Vaughn-Jones. Caleb is exactly the type of person I partnered up with the Howard County Arts Council to meet, and I was very pleased when he emailed back a few months ago to commission another set of photos.

Nothing fosters creativity like collaborating with creative people. He's been doing some amazing work since 2010, and I was excited to get to work with him again. Read more �


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Sunny Sunday


digital photography

New Pantanal & Madagascar Photo Tours for 2012

I am excited to announce that I will be leading two incredible photo tours in 2012… in July I will be taking a group to the Pantanal in Brazil and in October-November I will be taking a group around Madagascar (see below for an overview of each trip). To run the tours, I have partnered [...]


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Photographers on Twitter

For the past year or so, I've kept a repository of awesome photographers on Twitter - and today, we hit a really fun milestone: 2,000 photographers!

The list of Twittering Photographers can be found here, on Twittogs.

How can I join in?

Adding yourself to the list is easy: Simply follow @Twittogs on Twitter. As long as you keep following Twittogs, you'll be kept on the list. If you want out, simply unfollow @Twittogs again, and you'll be removed soon after.

If you want your Flickr to be listed separately, that's pretty easy too: Simply do an at-reply to Twittogs with the URL to your Flickr stream, like this:

Hi @Twittogs, please add

Every 24 hours or so, the little Twittogs robot checks its @replies, and adds the new Flickr accounts and Twitter followers to the list.

Check it out, and follow some awesome photographers on Twitter!

Did you like this article? Stay in touch!

Twitter Logo Facebook Logo Flickr Logo   Twitter (16,522 followers) • Facebook (2,759 likes) • Flickr (4,218 contacts)

© Kamps Consulting Ltd. This article is licenced for use on Pixiq only. Please do not reproduce wholly or in part without a license. More info.


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Bird of the Week ? Week 116 ? Common waxbill

The Common waxbill is a small bird with a length of about 11 cm. Although it is native to sub-Saharan Africa, it is a popular cage bird and has been introduced into many other parts of the world, where, after escape or release, it has established breeding populations wherever the climate is suitable and a [...]


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Dumfries Red Kites

For some time now I have been meaning to got to the red kite trail near Loch Ken in Dumfries and Galloway. Finally the weather picked up enough for me to make the 260 mile round trip to the Castle … Continue reading


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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Leap Day Giveth, Delta Taketh Way

I had hoped to be landing in Dubai for GPP 2012 right about now, but our mechanically challenged plane yesterday objected. Rather theatrically, I might add.

So instead, I'm encamped next to the airport in Atlanta at a hotel sufficiently downmarket to have free wifi. So that's something good, I suppose.

To that end, my homage to Andrew Hetherington's ongoing Room With a View series. But cool as those photos are, he never tells you the lighting details. So we can at least accomplish that much today. Read more �


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Glossy Ibis-four at Cantley marshes 27/03/12.

Glossy Ibis-four at Cantley marshes 27/03/12.


portrait photographers

Making Pinterest Work for Photographers

Photographers have good reason to despise social media?s new golden platform but Pinterest is visual, viral and too big to ignore. In December 2011, Pinterest achieved a landmark. The site drove more traffic to retailers than LinkedIn, YouTube or Google Plus. With two of those services supported by the Internet?s biggest company, that was some [...]


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As found on this morning's Cheeseboro Canyon loop. Copyright 2006-2012 Gary Valle. All Rights Reserved.


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